As part of its transformation strategy, CODELCO, the Chilean state-owned copper mining company, headquartered in Santiago, has partnered with the University of Chile’s Advanced Mining Technology Center (AMTC). This article will look at the partnership, how it will drive the mining innovation ecosystem forward, and what this means for the future of the industry and emerging key technologies.
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Outline of the Partnership
CODELCO was formed in 1976 out of the nationalization of several foreign-owned copper companies. CODELCO is working collaboratively with other organizations, including universities, technology centers, suppliers, and research centers.
Within this framework of collaborative innovation, the company has now partnered with the University of Chile’s Advanced Mining Technology Center. The AMTC seeks to help develop innovative mining technologies that drive the industry forward in a challenging and changing world.
The center has around 100 researchers and is dedicated to applied research. By combining CODELCO’s experience and expertise with the technical capabilities of the AMTC, they are seeking to respond to challenges facing the mining industry today.
How will the Partnership Drive the Mining Industry Forward?
The AMTC has the capacity to model large amounts of data and information from ongoing projects, making it an ideal choice of partner for CODELCO. The partnership is already bearing fruit for CODELCO, providing research that focuses on the company’s seven strategic innovation axes.
The mining industry is facing several challenges in the 21st century, including its environmental impact, the impact of emerging technologies, cost, ensuring safer mining operations for workers, dwindling resources, and identifying new targets for exploration. By partnering with the University of Chile’s AMTC, CODELCO can model data and transform it into actionable solutions to issues such as chlorinated leaching processes and tailings and water management in large-scale underground mining.
What Key Technologies Will the Partnership Help Develop?
This collaborative partnership is helping to develop several key technologies that will help to drive CODELCO and, by extension, the entire mining industry forward into the 21st century and beyond.
Autonomous Underground Truck Tests
Autonomous machinery is an emerging technology. Already widely researched for commercial and military-industrial sectors, the field of autonomous machinery is providing innovative solutions for the mining industry.
Data gathered by the AMTC from a January 2021 industrial test on autonomous underground trucks that can transport and haul ore in mines is currently being analyzed to identify the advantages of this technology. The test was carried out at CODELCO’s Esmerelda Mine Panel 2.
Information gathered in this test will inform the design of models that can be used in the company’s other mining operations. Data will also inform guidelines for the integration of the technology with existing systems and equipment.
Utilizing Seismicity to Identify New Mining Prospects
Chile is a country with abundant seismicity. Utilizing seismic tomography for exploration can help identify anomalies in S and P wave velocities that may represent intriguing exploration possibilities. This technique is relevant to the field due to its deep penetration capacity. Current, shallower resources have already been identified, meaning that new possibilities are occurring at deeper depths in the earth.
The current challenge facing the mining industry is integrating current data on known and potential exploration sites. Emergent technologies such as machine learning are being used to increase the potential for the identification of new exploration targets.
Testing and Trialing Mechanized Mine Equipment
A major challenge in the mining industry is improving safety for workers. Several well-publicized mining disasters have demonstrated the dangers posed by mining operations. The mining industry is also responsible for emissions that contribute to climate change. Add to this the need to improve the efficiency of accessing resources, and the need for mechanized mine development equipment is obvious.
CODELCO is building two new large underground mines, and due to these factors, is looking into how mechanized mining equipment can be incorporated into their operation. By partnering with the AMTC and taking advantage of its expertise in mining innovation, CODELCO aims to develop mechanized equipment that will help to solve some of the key issues facing mining operations in the 21st century. The partners will work alongside each other in designing and testing new equipment.
Why is this Partnership Important?
Many critical issues are facing the mining industry today. This partnership between CODELCO and the University of Chile’s Advanced Mining Technology Center represents the coming together of companies and other actors within the mining innovation ecosystem. In conclusion, by collaborating with each other, CODELCO and the AMTC are pushing innovation forward into the 21st century and beyond, benefitting the entire mining industry.
References and Further Reading
Moore, P. (2021) Codelco collaborations with the University of Chile’s Advanced Mining Technology Center bearing fruit. [Online] International Mining. Available at: https://im-mining.com/2021/09/01/codelco-collaborations-university-chiles-advanced-mining-technology-center-bearing-fruit/
AMTC [Online] Available at: https://www.amtc.cl/
Codelco [Online] Available at: https://www.codelco.com/